September update on Russian fossil fuels: EU imports cross EUR 100 billion since the beginning of the invasion

The EU’s imports of fossil fuels from Russia since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine reached EUR 100 billion in late September, according to CREA’s real-time estimates. While coal imports from Russia have stopped and gas imports have decreased dramatically, the EU continues to import crude oil, oil products, LNG and pipelined gas worth approximately EUR 260 million per day. 

As the milestone was crossed, CREA published an analysis estimating that price caps on Russian fossil fuels could have cut the EU’s import bills from Russia by EUR 11.0 billion since the beginning of July, after the measure was first discussed at a high level at the G7 Summit. Russia’s revenues from fossil fuel exports could have been slashed even more, by a total of EUR 14.1 billion, had the price caps been applied to all fossil fuel cargoes carried to third countries aboard European-owned or insured ships, in addition to imports into the Union.

Overall exports drop in September

Russia’s fossil fuel exports resumed dropping in September, with estimated revenue falling 14% from August. The largest losses were in gas exports to Europe, and in crude oil exports globally.

The total value of fossil fuels Russia has exported to the EU since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine crossed EUR 100 billion at the end of September, by our estimates.

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The EU remained the largest importer of fossil fuels from Russia in September. India, China, Turkey and Malaysia saw the largest increases compared with the levels at the start of the invasion of Ukraine.

Coal exports claw back as EU fails to tamp down shipping

Coal exports from Russia to the EU have stopped after the EU coal ban took effect on 10 August. However, EU member states failed to enforce the provision in the ban that prohibited EU-owned ships from transporting coal from Russia to third countries. This has allowed Russia’s coal exports to claw back about half of the loss of the EU market. The main importer taking up the slack has been Turkey. Since the start of the EU coal ban, two thirds of the ships carrying Russian coal to Turkey have been EU-owned, showing that the EU holds the power to restrict this trade or impose a price cap if it chooses to.

Russia’s fossil fuel exports into the EU have seen a consistent decrease since August, when our last report found that exports had stabilized. Exports of pipeline gas, oil and coal fell, while LNG exports showed little change.

China’s crude oil imports from Russia have started to fall in September, likely due to the overall drop in oil demand. India’s imports continue to hover below the peak reached in May. The country imported almost no fossil fuel from Russia before the invasion started. Malaysia’s oil imports spiked at the end of September, as did Japan’s LNG imports and South Korea’s coal imports.

Overall, Russia’s total exports to non-EU countries have been largely stable since March while EU exports have halved, resulting in an overall drop of 30% in Russia’s fossil fuel exports by volume.

EU trends by country

In the EU, Germany’s imports saw a precipitous fall due to the cut-off of gas deliveries via the Nord Stream pipeline. Crude oil imports were largely stable, while Greece saw a jump in oil products imports. France was the main importer of LNG, with volumes unchanged from August. Spain’s LNG imports (shown under others) fell after the spike in July-August. Based on our analysis of Europe’s internal gas flows, Bulgaria continued to import a lot of Russian gas indirectly via other EU countries despite Gazprom terminating sales to the country.